12.26.2004

Boo's first Christmas meal

Boo's first Christmas meal consisted of:
Proscuitto and Herb Pork Loin
Crab and Corn Chowder
Garlicky Gruyere Mashed Potatoes with Bacon
Sage, Rosemary & Thyme Gravy
Pancetta Green Beens (we love all forms of bacon, can you tell?)
Gougere Puffs
Grandma J's Deviled Eggs
Grandma J's famous Lumpia
Chocolate Chip Mousse Cake
Gingersnap Cookies
Scott's Pumpkin Pie

The Joy of Today's Toys

I'll admit it: I am the ultimate consumer. As pro-environment, pro-small business, pro-Reduce/Reuse/Recycle as I like to try to be, I am every marketer's dream. Easily suckered in by smart target advertising. Purchasing decisions in our household are often made based on which product has the most attractive packaging. Being in public relations, I value the work that goes into market research, right-on-target-market design, and clever copywriting. I feel those folks should be rewarded with my hard earned dollars, since they have, in my mind, earned theirs.

The world of toys is a new and fascinating world to me and my husband. What a mega industry it is. We try to temper our toy buying to just "educational" toys for Buddy Boo. What we've learned with Boo's first Christmas, is that nearly all toys really are education-based these days. Most of you probably already know this, but to us newbies, WOW is the word. When we were young, toys just had to be pretty and fun - I don't recall any verbiage on the packaging that talked about whether the toy would help me with math or reading skills. Certainly my first toys weren't created and bought based on the ability to teach me motor skills or cause and effect skills (not that I could read at a year old, but I have my hunches).

We woke up after Boo's first Christmas to a mini toy store. Building blocks, a Baby Einstein learning piano, soft shape sorter, animal orchestra stacker. Amid the darling baby clothes, baby necessities, stuffed animals and precious gifts, Boo broke out the colorful toys and started playing...and learning.

I'm today convinced that consumerism in today's world isn't such a bad thing. It's consumerism that pushed toy companies to make more toys that combine simple fun with educational qualities. I wish I had some of these toys when I was younger! ALL of Boo's new toys will help him grow and learn in some way, plus they are super cute, and they are fun for him to play with. All of the packaging touted each toy's special educational purpose, and I appreciate it. Even if some of it seems a bit far reaching. For a newbie mom, it helps give me pointers on how to help him play to get the most out of his toys.

Of course, all of this is nonsense to little Boo. At the end of his play sessions, he just wants to eat the toys...and the boxes they came in. Go figure :)

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday!

12.24.2004

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

I can't believe it's already Christmas. We love, love, love hosting Christmas dinner at our house each year, and this year there's so much more to look forward to! So many traditions to pass on, and so many new ones yet to start. Christmas really is about Believing. Miracles. Love. It's all of those things, and so much more now.

Before we put Boo to bed for the night, we told him the story of Santa Claus. The story we haven't told him is the original, religious story of Christmas. It's a story I am quite frankly a bit apprehensive to tell him, because I am not comfortable with it myself. Religion is a touchy topic, especially these days in the U.S., and I have no doubt what I am about to write will make some of you uncomfortable, some of you angry, and will also make some of you nod in agreement. Regardless, it's my blog, and it's something that's been on my mind since Boo was born, so you can either continue reading with the understanding that these are my beliefs and my experiences, which I do not intend to impose upon anyone else, or you can stop reading right now. As always with blogs, the choice is yours.

I grew up in a heavily Roman Catholic family, but I stopped going to church sometime during college (even the obligatory midnight mass came to an end a few years back for me). Don't get me wrong, I do believe. I believe in the wonder of many religious beliefs. I am in love with the stories and the faith and the magic of them all. But I do not believe in church itself.

This disengagement, for me, began possibly as early as around 10 years old, when nobody could ever give me a serious, straight answer for my very serious 10-year-old questions about God - not the priest, not the nuns, not my parents, not my friends, not anything I read (including the Bible) - and when I wanted to find answers about anything, I read a lot. My family went to church every Sunday, and my parents have become very active in their church. I am very proud of them for their faith and their active participation in that community. It is simply not for me, and it never was. I have fond memories of the singing and the stories of hope and faith and the kindness of strangers and going out for lunch as a special treat on Sundays (like I've said before, I have always loved good food)... but I was put off by the constant sermons that attempted to make me feel guilty about living, that told horrible tales of suffering without reasonable explanation, that included hearty moral contradictions within the same sermon. That, and I could never keep still in church, nor could I keep quiet. And I also got kicked out of summer Bible school when I was of elementary school age. I think, in part, because the teacher had no answers for my constant barrage of questions. No concrete ones, anyway. But, I digress...

My husband doesn't come from a very religious background. His father is Jewish and his mother is Protestant, but he says they never really talked about religion, nor did they go to church. He attended midnight mass with me a couple of times early on in our relationship. The best part for him was the "Peace by with you" part. I always forget, but I like that part too. It's a great feeling to reach across the pew, shake hands with a stranger, and offer a greeting of peace with a smile. That gentle gesture was a nice part of church.

Anyway, we've talked about how we are going to handle religion with our baby boy. I don't think we've come to any conclusion, however. I'd like to be able to take him to priests and rabbis and ministers and so on, to have him learn about all of the different religions of the world. Catholicism. Judaism. Hinduism. It's all very, very fascinating and part of me wants him to be able to have all of the information possible so he can make a decision about religion that is right for him. I want him to see the absolute faith that people hold across the globe, in whatever their faith may be. I want him to never be afraid to question. I hope he finds faith in the good, the kind-hearted, the beauty of the world's differences.

This all comes to a climax now, of course, as Christmas approaches. I am sure we'll tell him the story of Jesus someday, but not yet. He still has to experience the wonders of his baby world, and come to understand the everyday miracles that life here on earth brings. Christmas, for us, is about Love and Family. Believing in the goodness of mankind. Helping others. Appreciating life and each other.

To anyone reading this: Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice or the simple beginning of another beautiful year on earth, I wish you and yours all the happiness in the world. May you find love, belief, and goodness this season. May you continue to share your heart, your goodwill, with others in the year to come. May you continue to blog and read blogs with an open heart and an open mind.

Happy Holidays, to one and all!

12.19.2004

Ah, but to dream...

As a new mom, I sometimes fall into that blissful odd world between beautiful reality and utopic possibility. Before, my husband and I would dream and plan and discuss all of these great ideas we had for the future. Now, we still do that, but the focus has shifted to tempering our far out dreams with our child's needs and a more realistic timeline.

I like to think my husband and I are both optimists, rather than dreamers. We dream big and then figure out how to logically make things work. Right now I feel like we have many big dreams that will take longer to accomplish because we have a child, and that's ok. It's testing our planning skills, and I think this is part of what helps people mature more after having children.

I also tend to also believe that following one's instincts is what allows us to live the lives we were meant to live. Go with your gut, and you can't go wrong. So far, this has worked out well for me. My best moves have been impulsive instinct and not practical-based: moving across country to attend a college (and a coast) I'd never visited, moving to cities without a job in place, deciding to drive down one more street and finding our house the day before it was listed. Sometimes, you just know that things will work out. You just feel like everything is going to be fine, even though the details aren't worked out.

A rambling blog today, I know, but my mind lately has been full of rambling dreams. Dreams that have not yet hit that "yes, this is right, now is the time" instinctive moment yet. For instance, I am now trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. My career path has been impulsive and yet calculated at the same time. With Boo in my life, I feel for some reason as if this is a good time to try something new, to follow old dreams.

So my random dream logs have been this:
-research medical school, look into becoming a pediatrician; or
-apply for MFA writing programs; or
-plan a launch party for www.eventbliss.com (you can go to the site, however there's nothing but a cheesy Yahoo placeholder right now); and
-sign up for hip hop dance classes (KM-we have to do this), French classes, German classes, Italian classes, glass blowing classes, accessory design classes;
-spearhead a new working moms group in the city;
-take up painting again;
-teach Boo sign language (I think he's starting to get the sign for "more");
-go away to the beach with my husband, Boo and the dogs for a long weekend;
-go up to the mountain with the girls from work and go snowboarding (uh, it's been about four years since I've gone snowboarding);
-write a book;
-publish a book of poetry;
-begin my home decorating/professional organizing/easy entertaining/special occasion event planning empire;
-spend the holidays in Europe one year;
-send my husband to the wine-making/brewmaster vacation he's talked about;
-with my husband, run a political campaign for a candidate we believe in;
-buy a bigger house (although that would mean we'd have to move out of the city);
-enroll Boo in one of the language immersion schools (French most likely);
-buy a beach house.

A dream is a start. But which dream do you start with?

12.17.2004

Happy Friday

Today is Friday. Hooray! This week, Boo has been extra talkative, extra cuddly, and extra mobile. We ordered a big playmat for our hardwoods so he can tumble and crawl as he wishes in our living room without banging his little noggin on the hardwood floor. We're thinking of introducing the sippy cup since he's been trying to drink our water every time we bring a glass up to our mouths. He's actually grabbed my glass of water once and just sucked on the outside of the glass. Hmmm, time for his own cup, I think. We're still trying to finalize our Christmas dinner menu. We started compiling our huge donation to The Arc (I think we have enough old clothes, dishes and CDs and stuff to open up our own resale store by now!). We're trying to figure out which holiday parties we are going to attend and which we just have to say no to. We're weaning Boo off of his reflux medicine - slowly. I'm starting to pump less, mainly because I just don't have time at work when I can do this anymore, so it's down to two sessions, and sometimes just one. Our Christmas tree is up and there are more presents under the tree for Boo than A and I combined (rightfully so). It's a fun time of year, and even more fun this year with Boo.

12.14.2004

The Second Child?? (also: Big Dump)

Let's just settle this once and for all, for everyone out there who hasn't yet asked us:
Question: "When are you having another one?"
Answer: "WE DON'T KNOW."

Sorry about the caps, friends. I don't believe in screaming at people in person but somehow screaming this phrase online seems not only acceptable, but refreshingly appropriate.

Buddy Boo is six and a half months old. He is our first child. Perhaps he will be our only child, but we've hardly had the chance to breathe before the first person asked us the dreaded Second Child question. It has been asked at least 5 billion times since then (ok, a little exaggeration).

For some parents, this is an easy question to answer. They've always known they wanted two or three kids. Or rather, shall I say, the mother has always known. There are a few fathers out there whom I've met that have known they wanted a large family before they even met their wives, but for the most part, many of these fathers miraculously discover they want more kids after their wives divulge their dreams of their own mini-Brady Bunch. Just my general observation. Not saying this is true for everyone.

For some parents, they know that they want their children to be close in age, so they start trying again soon after the first is born. This is the case of my friend who lives about 3,000 miles away in (a much sunnier) Miami. Her baby boy is just about 10 months old and they intend to start trying for #2 next month. It surprised me to hear this, but good for her, I say.

Some of my friends don't want to wait too long to start trying for #2 because they are already in their mid-30's, or have hit 40, and they don't want to have a child later than the age of _____ (fill in the blank; it's different for everybody).

For us, we've always known we wanted a child. One. Uno. Singular, not plural. Beyond that, we've discussed discussing more children after we made it through the first one.

Side note #1: ok, I have to interrupt by saying that Boo, right now, while playing joyfully on his own on his playmat next to me, just took the biggest squishiest dump I have ever heard. I have yet to see it, but it sounded like the Mother of All Dumps. It's so funny how hard he concentrates and then he just goes back to playing like nothing happened. Perhaps I should stop typing and tend to my little baby's dirty bottom...

Side note #2: I'm back, and I think poor Boo has diarrhea. It was an interesting fairly wet mess that outwitted two diapers (as least I had put another diaper down when he decided to continue. We've not been so lucky before).

So A and I are going to discuss whether or not #2 (child, not in reference to the side notes above!) will or will not happen. I'd like to consider this around Boo's first birthday because it seems too much to think about right now. For us, a baby is
a lot of work. We love our baby boy immensely. We want to make sure we give him the tools to have a good heart, to make good choices, to live a good life. What we need to decide is whether or not we are capable of providing the same for another child.

This is really about whether or not it is practical for us to have a second child. A and I are practical people. We don't want a second child just because we think that Boo needs a playfriend. He's learning to socialize just fine without an in-house brother or sister right now. We don't want more children just to have "help" around the house. That's sick, IMO. We don't want more children just to carry on the family name. We need to do it for the right reasons for us. Kudos to those of you who made the decision to have more children quite easily. For us, right now, we're just not there.

A and I are content right now with Child #1. We are enjoying every single second of parenting one child. Perhaps down the road we'll decide we want/need another child in our lives, and that we are physically, mentally, emotionally and fiscally capable of having another child. Again, we're just not there yet.

12.09.2004

The Six Month Amazing Circus

Buddy Boo, at six months, is the picture of baby fun. A and I are so amazed at everything he has learned in just the last month alone, and we're loving just watching him for minutes on end. He's sitting up by himself. He's grabbing objects near and far, reaching for them, grabbing things from store shelves, raking toys toward him with his cute little hands. And then, of course, putting those objects in his mouth. He's babbling nonstop. In the mornings, we wake up to "dadadada...dadabababa...badadalalababa" singing through the baby monitor. He's leaning forward to eat his toes. He's learning to go to sleep on his own so well, without any sleep aids. He's stopped crying in the car if one of us isn't back there with him. He's wolfing down peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, peaches like there's no tomorrow. He's starting to get separation anxiety when we leave. He loves paper, especially tissue wrapping paper. He loves the sound paper makes as he smashes it between his hands. He loves to nibble on the corners of our photo albums and magazines. He's reaching for other babies and patting them with interest at baby group. We love every phase he's been through so far, but this phase right now, this amazing big top circus phase, is by far the most fun and incredible for us.

12.07.2004

O Christmas Tree

We were supposed to get our tree last weekend. The thought has actually crossed my mind: would it be so bad if we didn't have a tree for Buddy Boo's first Christmas? Bad mama. We'll get it this weekend, but honestly I don't know where we're going to put it. Our house has shrunk since the wee little lad entered our lives. Taken over by playmats, bouncy seats, swings, toys, blankets, more toys, general baby stuff. If we have three little trees on our porch with lights does that count? Oh, bad, bad mama. I am SO into Christmas, and SO into this being our first Christmas with Boo... but just not into the thought of a tree this year. What's wrong with me?

Is it the weekend yet? Is it Christmas yet? Is it vacation yet? We really should have the whole month of December off.

12.06.2004

Work/Life Balance Schmalance

Question of the Day:
The myth of the elusive work/life balance working mothers are supposed to aspire to attain was conceived by:
a) a male doctor who was never home to discuss how his working wife was really feeling about her marathon multi-multi-tasking day, and therefore believed if his wife had balance every working mother could achieve the same;
b) a mother who won the lottery as soon as her baby was born, thereby allowing her to quit her job, hire two housekeepers, a gardener, a professional organizer, two chefs, delivery laundry service, a chauffeur, an on-call nanny and a personal shopper (achieving a balance between child-rearing and keeping your own identity is easy! she said);
c) a childless female doctor who was sick of hearing all of the mothers come into her office complaining of how tough their lives were;
d) some sick and twisted fool who should be banished from society; or
e) all of the above

While I have a suspicion the work/life balance myth could have been developed from a, b, or c, for me the answer would be d. What idiot decided that what we working mothers needed was to try to achieve that 50/50 balance between our working lives and our home lives? News flash: THERE IS NO BALANCE. It's never 50/50. For all of the mothers trying desperately to make sure every aspect of their lives is balanced, for you own sanity I implore you to give up the game and just live.

Motherhood has definitely helped me relax a bit in my overzealous nature to do everything all at once. I get really excited about things, but then sometimes I get worked up because there are so many things, and then I get stressed out even though I really am enjoying everything I am doing. I know enough to know this about myself.

Before Buddy Boo was born, I can't tell you how many articles I read about making sure that I tried my best to balance my life as much as possible. "When you find yourself spending extra time on a project at work, be sure to schedule in some 'me' time to make up for it." Blah blah blah. Come on, let's face it: even trying to achieve balance ends up creating more work than there was in the first place!

I've learned that there are, indeed, things I can say no to. But then where's the balance when there are even more things these days to say yes to? Yes to taking Boo to baby groups to play with other babies and talk with other new moms. Yes to writing a blog every other day or so. Yes to making my friend's wedding invitations and save the date cards. Yes to making cookies on a Monday night. Balance, my ass.

I suppose the underlying message in the articles I read about achieving work/life balance is to just do what makes you happy. Sure, sometimes work will take over for a while. Yes, there will be times when you'll be overloaded with family obligations and won't have time just for yourself. But that's how life goes and I think as long as you interweave some personal satisfaction into all of those things, you'll be fine. I think it's when we have to work to try to keep everything on an even keel that we get into trouble, and we end up feeling as if we've failed when in reality, we've just set unattainable goals.

If you feel you have achieved work/life balance, then I say bravo to you. Maybe you can share your recipe for success with the rest of us flounders flopping around with silly smiles on our faces from being happily unbalanced. However, I'm willing to bet that your recipe for success does not in fact lead to a 50/50 utopia, but rather a simple equation that works for you in your life, right at this moment. For me, I've stopped chasing the elusive mythical beast that is work/life balance. I'm too busy to even try :)

12.02.2004

Hi dada

During the week, mornings have become our favorite time of day. We bring Boo to bed with us when he first wakes up, give him a little snack, and then he usually giggles a bit and goes back to sleep in our bed. Yesterday morning, Boo was in bed with us and A said "Say Hi Dada" expecting Boo to give us his usual big smile and a little cooing. Instead, he simply and immediately replied "Hi Dada." Suddenly, A and I were wide awake. A looked at me, looked at Boo, and then said to our little baby "Say Mama." That was promptly followed by Boo saying in his sweet little voice "Mama." Were we imagining it? Were we hearing things? We don't think so. Boo definitely copied his Dada.

The elation we felt in that moment lasted all day, and pieces linger with us still. It's so exciting, and so scary. He's sitting up like he's always known how, he's walking around with us just holding his hands, he's trying to crawl, and now he's repeated two of the greatest phrases we've been waiting to hear...and now I'm not sure either of us are ready for him to say them again. I know it will be a process that will take some time, but the time always goes much faster than I imagine it would.

Tonight Boo went to an art opening with us and he wasn't talkative at all. He was just cute little baby Boo who loves to smile when others smile at him and take in everything around him. I relished tonight, watching him hold onto his Dada's shoulder, looking around and watching him communicate nonverbally. He's so cute!!